Photo of Khaw Boon Wan from Yahoo

When queried by the media over the train disruption on Downtown Line’s (DTL) first day of operations yesterday (Oct 16), Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan blamed the disruption to “bad luck”:

“It was “bad luck” that train service was temporarily disrupted during Sunday’s preview of new stations along the Downtown Line. Sometimes things will happen … For it to happen when we are doing an open house, that is bad luck… But I was happy to read that the recovery effort was quite speedy. And I hope we do appreciate some of these improvements that have been made in the system – that people are able to go in, identify the fault, correct it and and fix it. So what are the odds for bad things to happen, when you are celebrating good things?”

New Downtown Line train break down on first day of opening

Minister Khaw Boon Wan then admitted that his government’s calculation of rail reliability does not capture train delays:

“The DTL, which is operated by SBS Transit, clocked an MKBF of more than 1 million kilometres in a mid-year report by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). I hope commuters realise that high MKBF doesn’t mean no delay. Supposing the line is very reliable and you hit 1 million km MKB. You praise them, but what does it mean? When you reach a million, the risk of you getting a failure is anytime now, unless you achieve 2 million km MKBF. When you’ve just achieved 1 million, then the likelihood of a delay happening the next day or next week is very high. That is how things work. It is statistical.”

The Transport Minister insisted that the train system is also becoming more reliable:

“But of course, we should all try to strive towards perfection, meaning infinite MKBF. We know it’s very difficult, but we should look at the outcome versus the current status quo. Are we improving? If we do, let us pay compliments to our hardworking staff. If occasionally an issues crops up, then let’s get to the root of it, understand it, and fix it as much as we can.”

During the press conference, SMRT Chairman Seah Moon Ming said that bonuses of the maintenance staffs will be cut. However, the salaries and bonuses of SMRT CEOs and the chairman will be unaffected.